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European astroparticle physicists publish a roadmap to the stars

To answer some of the most exciting mysteries of the Universe, European astroparticle physicists have published a roadmap to the stars.

Grouped together in the ApPEC* consortium and the ASPERA* European network, European research agencies are defining a common strategic plan for astroparticle physics to gain international consensus on what is needed for future facilities. This is an important step for the field, outlining Europe’s leading role in this new discipline emerging at the intersection of particle physics, astronomy, and cosmology. Astroparticle physics aims to answer fundamental questions, such as “What is the Universe made of?”, “What is the origin of cosmic rays?” or “What is the nature of gravity?”. It also tries to enlarge our knowledge about violent phenomena in the Universe occurring, for instance, during and after supernova explosions, or in the environment of neutron stars and black holes. Its rapid development has led to the design of new types of infrastructures. In underground laboratories or with specially designed telescopes, antennas and satellite experiments, astroparticle physicists employ new detection methods to observe a wide range of cosmic particles: neutrinos, gamma-rays, and cosmic rays at the highest energies, gravitational waves and the hypothetical dark matter particles. To ensure Europe’s leading position in this field and organize the discipline, ApPEC and ASPERA have launched an important prospective work engaging the whole astroparticle physics community. Following that process, ApPEC and ASPERA have recently published a roadmap giving an overview of the status and perspectives of astroparticle physics in Europe. This is the first step towards a European coordination of an astroparticle physics field. One of the main goals of ASPERA is to define a process to enable the funding of experiments and infrastructures on a joint European scale. “It will be the first time that the astroparticle physics funding will be concentrated by the participating European agencies on commonly agreed targets” said Professor Stavros Katsanevas, the coordinator of ASPERA. The roadmap, though still in its first phase, has started to identify a common policy. Considering the European convergence criteria and their strong scientific interest, ApPEC has reviewed several proposals and has recommended engaging the design studies for 4 large infrastructures: • The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), a new generation of European observatory for high-energy gamma rays. • EURECA, a tonne-scale bolometric detector for cryogenic research of dark matter. • LAGUNA, a very large detector for proton decay and neutrino astronomy and Einstein Telescope (ET), a next generation gravitational wave antenna, ApPEC has also reiterated its strong support for the high-energy neutrino telescope KM3 in the Mediterranean Sea. A project included in the ESFRI list. These and other projects, including tonne-scale detectors for the measurement of the neutrino mass, dark matter detectors using alternative technologies and high-energy cosmic ray observatories will be discussed and prioritised further in an important workshop that will take place in Amsterdam on 21 and 22 September 2007. During this workshop, where 300 European physicists are expected to attend, the European priorities for astroparticle physics will be compared to the corresponding ones in other parts of the world. Such experimental projects highlight the dynamism of astroparticle physics in Europe and announce a very exciting future in the adventure of understanding the Universe. European Astroparticle Roadmap is available online at: WWW.ASPERA-EU.ORG


Astroparticle Physics


Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom